What’s Wrong with Saying that “God is Love”?
It’s only a half-truth...
People are hearing and happily repeating the catchphrase “God is love” these days. It’s coming from pulpits and worship bands all around America. (It seems to fill the seats, for sure.) In fact, if you dare to say anything else, you will probably be criticized as unloving.
So, I might be getting some pushback this week. So be it...
Indeed, love is a characteristic of God and a central part of His character. Everything God does is loving, just as everything He does is just and right. God is the perfect example of true love.
But being loving is only one part of God’s character, not the whole of it. And that is where many people get it wrong. They want to recreate God in their own image. They want a “God of love” who will never send anyone to hell. They want a God who does not demand justice, who loves them no matter what sin, perversion, or unrepentant evil they repeatedly engage in.
They often base this bogus theology on only two verses found in Chapter 4 of 1 John:
8 Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love. (1 John 4:8)
16 And so we know and rely on the love God has for us. God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in them. (1 John 4: 16)
But these two verses are being taken out of context, ignoring the entire revelation of God Himself throughout the Bible. Scripture also tells us that God is just, and His justice is an essential part of His character in the same way that His love is. Without His justice, sin would run unrestrained, and no one would truly respect a God who was not just. We can’t choose what parts of the Bible we want to believe and ignore the rest.
In God’s kingdom, His justice goes far beyond our human sense of courts and prisons. It means to give everyone his due. God wills nothing that is not just… because being “just” is one of God’s attributes. God can’t be anything but just. It’s who He is. In kingdom terms, justice is a term used for what is “as it should be.”
The world does not like to think of God in terms of His wrath, anger, and judgment, but rather a God who is loving, merciful, and accepting no matter what. Man doesn’t want to be judged and punished for sin, so he longs for a tolerant, open-minded, and easy-going God.
But, if we think that way, we fool only ourselves. With that kind of fantasy God, there would be no laws and standards that anyone would obey, making for a chaotic and dangerous world.
But here is the good news... God doesn’t want us separated from Him by sin. When we decide to repent, put our faith in Jesus and ask God for forgiveness… we are forgiven… and justified.
Justification is God’s removing the guilt and penalty of sin while declaring the sinner righteous through Christ’s atoning sacrifice through faith alone, without us having to do anything else! This is God’s free gift of grace to us. But here’s the thing, when that free gift of grace is deliberately rejected, the only alternative is God’s judgment.
God does love us, and we are called to love others. But there are boundaries to our behaviors. If we continue to willfully engage in thoughts and behaviors that he hates and do not repent and seek to change, we will suffer His just consequences.
Telling people that “God is love” without mentioning that He is also a just God is deceiving them. It’s a lie from the pit of hell...
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